2005: Mikis Theodorakis Year

The year 2005 in Greece could well be described as the «Year of Theodorakis» as a plethora of events are being put together around the country to celebrate the acclaimed Greek composer’s 80th birthday, which is on July 29. The Athens Concert Hall (Megaron) will be the main focus of the program, with concerts dedicated to Theodorakis running through to December, as well as an exhibition in the foyer on his life and opus, curated by Guy Wagner. The next event on the Megaron’s agenda for the Theodorakis tribute is a recital on February 9 with Christoforos Stamboglis performing a program of the composer’s songs. On February 11, center stage will be given to his symphonic works, with a performance of «The Festivities of Asi-Gonia,» his First Symphony for Orchestra, «Oedipus Tyrannus» for string orchestra, and «Love and Death,» adapted for string orchestra and voice. The day after, on February 12, the great lady of Theodorakis songs, Maria Farandouri, will be joined by the Orchestra of Colors in a recital. Other artists who will participate in the Theodorakis tribute at the Megaron over the year include Manolis Mitsias, Yiannis Parios, Dimitris Bassis, Giorgos Dalaras, Nena Venetsanou and Yiannis Koutras, among others. The truth is that Theodorakis’s opus defies classification. Indeed, many consider his music to express everything that is Greece, its history and its sociopolitical manifestations. «Basically,» writes music and theater historian and critic Costas Georgousopoulos, «the Theodorakis of theater and cinema is as gifted as the songwriter, the symphony composer, the melodramatic composer and writer of ballets.» This month’s Megaron events are dedicated to the music Theodorakis wrote for films, with concerts on the 17th and 18th. «I was always a big fan of cinema,» Theodorakis said in 1996. «I was one of the few people who went to the Roseikler, a small cinema in the Hafteia district of Omonia. I remember that at the entrance, there was a sign that said, ‘Please leave your shoe-shine boxes outside.’ The cinema played two films for the price of one cheap ticket and every lunchtime shoe-shiners, lottery-ticket sellers and street cleaners would go there to take a nap. That’s where we first heard the heckle ‘Where’re the subtitles, you butcher?’ shouted out. I was a regular with Michalis Katsaros, and we were among the few that never fell asleep.» How did he compose the music for films? «Fast. I would usually watch the movie with the director and before the screening was over I already had almost half the music in mind. The next step was to go home and get it down on paper.» This is, indeed, how he composed in just 10 days the music for Costa Gavras’s «State of Siege.» Tickets for the Theodorakis tribute, which includes some of his landmark compositions for the cinema, are available from the Athens Concert Hall in advance. Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali & Vas. Sofias, tel 210.728.2333.